Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Polar Vortex

     The groundhog has long since seen his shadow.  The clouds have rolled across the sky as he took shelter back in his tree stump to await the postponed coming of Spring.  He smugly sleeps, all cozy in his den.  My thoughts of the little rodent snug in his hole do little to warm my body as the "Polar Vortex" returns once again for another round of interesting weather.  The wind bites at my ears, stinging them bright pink.  My nose runs only a little before it freezes.  The moisture of my breath becomes caught on my beard and begins to form miniature icicles that tickle my lips as they chap.  The dexterity in my hands is impeded by the bulk of my gloves but removing them only serves to impede the working of my digits even more.  My fingers ache in the oppressive cold, finishing their tasks as quickly as possible.  My entire body is tight, constricted, tense against the frigid temperatures. 
    The ground outside is hard, icy, frozen.  The remaining dirty piles of grey snow have hardened beyond the strength of rock.  The world outside the window, past the door, is barren, sullen.  There is little color in the world thanks to the Vortex.  Spring is coming and along with it color but it must thaw first.  And in order to thaw it must survive the Vortex.  I am sure some trees and plants will succumb to the cold, especially after the spurt of warmer temps that has just passed, a tease of the future.  But, for now, the color of the world is grey, lonely grey.
     The traffic, the cars and trucks and buses, cough to life, begrudgingly taking to the roads.  People shuffle along the sidewalks like bundled mummies stooped against nature.  Most whine against the wind, grimace against the sting of the cold, cry for the color to return.  They hide within walls, wasting the days away hoping for the other days to arrive.  Yet the Polar Vortex has brought plenty of opportunity.  Besides the financials of entrepreneurial young kids willing to shovel a walk or some stairs, there are the chances to cozy up in front of the fireplace, basking in the glow of the embers, relishing its warmth.  There are snow forts to build and sleds to ride.  There are heavy, dark, winter warmers to sip by the fire or toast to a great run down the slopes.  Favorite flannels long dormant in the back of closets offer their warm softness as do fleece sheets and hot coca.  And there is the sting of the cheeks in the wind, the polar bite on the skin that lets one know they are alive.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


     I suppose one may consider me a creature of habit, of routine.  My day tends to follow the same schedule.  I like to try to have everything in order, organized.  My calendar in January already has notes all the way to December written on it.  This pre-planning allows for lists and notes and near fanatical organization.  I do not like change.  Deviation from the norm is somewhat disconcerting.  It seems to throw me off for the day.  Though I love to handle challenges at work and look forward to the flexibility of dealing with any situation, coming home to a stable, comforting routine somehow keeps me grounded.
     Yet, perhaps it is "middle-age" or perhaps my tolerances for nonsense have slowly lowered over the years, I have found myself as of late moving outside the zones of comfort and routine.  My first major step was a "forced-hand" decision to change phone, Internet, and even TV services.  This for many is a ridiculously simple decision, but for me it was a near traumatic experience.  The phone is an evil entity to be avoided at all costs.  I do not like to be connected and to be connected at all times is even more horrific.  My TV programming has been provided by the same company for over 15 years with nary a thought of change.  But my Internet has been a source of contention.  Although I could live without the world wide web, my family for school, for work, for nearly everything needs the world at their fingertips.  My wife has fought with Verizon over the slow speeds and lack of support.  My kids have howled over the loading times that rivaled an old monk squirreled away in a monastery with an inkwell and quill.
     So out with everything old.  Change everything.  One extreme to another.  Now the world flies across my computer screen.  The TV holds all the same shows, just in a new box.  And my phone still brings apprehension with its sinister ring.  The world has not collapsed but I feel different.  The best part of this change is I get to write again and not like a monk but on something closer to a typewriter.